The Senator of TikTok: Morgan Harper’s Run for Office (and  Our Hearts)

Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Hey, y’all it’s Brittany. People used to ask me all the time when I’d run for office, I took it as a major compliment, like thank you for trusting me with your future. And once upon a time, I thought, yeah, maybe. But the truth is that is not my jam. I think partly I was worried that I’d have to, like, censor myself too much.

I only recently started to fully own my voice without apology, and I was not ready to start shutting up for political expediency. Like y’all I just started cussing in public two years ago and I was not about to just go back to my Kidz Bop self, okay. Truth though, I don’t actually think that kind of self-censorship is necessary anymore.

I mean, the image of that perfectly refined politician who never swears and always goes to church and never, ever wears a heel above two inches or a pantsuit more than once that dusty archetype of old is slowly but surely being wrestled to the ground by some bad-ass folks. 

Take Congresswoman Cori Bush. Her approach is as authentic as her and it’s helped ensure that the perspective of a single mother and organizer and someone who has experienced the effects of policy is actually informing policy at the highest levels. You don’t sleep out on the steps of the Capitol protesting the end of the rent moratorium if you’re a by the book Manchurian candidate. She’s just one of the leaders of the new school turning tradition on its face, entering the arena because she knows that you can’t win if you don’t participate. So maybe I’m not a candidate, but maybe some of you are, and maybe we need to stop finding the reasons why we shouldn’t and consider the reasons why we should.


On the show today, a conversation with Morgan Harper, a brilliant young candidate for Senate in Ohio. 

Morgan Harper: These are not normal people. These are not people that are actually trying to become US senators to accomplish anything. It’s like their mission is obstruction and then trying to make our lives worse while they get rich and everybody who funds them gets richer too.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: That’s coming up. But first here’s Treasure Brooks with your trending news.

Treasure Brooks: Okay. First off, we are not going to talk about Twitter and the man who wants to colonize Mars. The people and issues we care about are here on Earth. Thank you very much. So that’s where we’re going to spend our energy. 

The Supreme Court has upheld a ban on blind, disabled, and elderly, Puerto Rican residents getting income from a federal benefit program. This is a big deal. Let’s break it down. American citizens who are in the supplemental security income program and who live in the 50 States. Get about 10 times the monthly income that Puerto Ricans do. Puerto Ricans get just about $84 a month. But why?

Puerto Ricans are US citizens and have been since World War I. Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that the ruling was justified by the fact that most Puerto Ricans don’t pay federal income taxes, but as Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out in descent, plenty of states pay less into the federal treasury than other states.

I’m looking at you Vermont, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Alaska. This ruling shows just how unequally the Constitution is applied when it comes to us territories. For example, residents of Guam, the US Virgin islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana islands can’t vote for president.

They get a representative in Congress, but that representative can’t vote on legislation, even if it might affect their constituents. DC residents get shafted in this way too, by the way. Look, the population of U S territories is 3.5 million people. That’s more than the five smallest states combined. US territories pay nearly $4 billion with a B in federal taxes, annually. American Samoan serve in the military at a rate higher than any US state.

This inequality cannot continue. No territories chose to become part of the United States. They were either bought, bartered, or stolen, And their people still experienced second class citizenship today. So for Puerto Ricans to be denied the basic protection of disability benefits, which if you ask me aren’t benefits at all—they’re rights, is insulting.

And one last thing, the elephant in the room is that 98% of the people in the US territories are racial and ethnic minorities. So is it a sheer coincidence that they’re being shortchanged? I think not.


From oppression to liberation or rather to free-ass motherfucker. That’s Janelle Monáe’s preferred pronoun, according to the LA times. That or they/them or she/her. The recording artist said on Red Table Talk last week that they’re non-binary. The announcement is worth celebrating, especially because they had alluded to being non-binary in the past, but is only now ready to share it publicly.

It’s beautiful to see them live their truth. And Jenelle dropped some serious wisdom explaining what led them to this place. 

Janelle Monae: I just don’t see myself as a woman solely. I feel like God is so much bigger than the he or the she. It’s like, it’s like something. And if I am from God, I am everything. 

Treasure Brooks: We have to congratulate Monáe’s for finding the space to come into their own.

Thank you for showing us your queer Afrofuturist vision. We can’t wait to see where your journey takes you and us next.

Finally, the investigative podcast Reveal has uncovered the truth about a top pregnancy information website. The so-called American Pregnancy Association may sound like the kind of place you’d go to get reliable information about having a baby, but it is actually produced by anti-choice activist Brad Imler.

Imler is not new to this kind of fakery. He first started at the American Pregnancy Helpline, an antiabortion hotline that masquerades as a resource for people with unplanned pregnancies. He later created the American Pregnancy Association website to try and reach more people with anti-choice misinformation.

And his methods have worked. The page, cited by top medical institutions like Los Angeles’ Cedar Sinai and media outlets likeThe New York Times, purports to offer science-backed information. But Reveal found the site presents medical inaccuracies as facts like the long since disproven myth that abortion is linked with breast cancer.

Unfortunately, this medical provider cosplay is not a new phenomenon. Crisis pregnancy centers first popped up in Hawaii in 1967, when the state legalized abortion and have continued to spread. And Associated Press analysis revealed that over the past decade, they’ve gotten tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to provide their deceptive services.

Listen, the top reasons that people choose abortion are because they aren’t financially prepared for a child or in relationships with a partner that they don’t want to bring a child into. So if you want to prevent abortion, get to work on economic inequality, get to work on education and housing access.

Get to work on universal healthcare, childcare and support for people in abusive relationships. But until you put in the hours on this projects, Brad Imler and anyone else who thinks they know better than we do when it comes to our uteruses, shut the hell up.

Coming up. Brittany will be talking to Morgan Harper, who might just be the next AOC. Right after this short break.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: And we are back. So we were talking before about political candidates. About how our ideas of what makes someone quote unquote electable have changed and how maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to get to a place where you can be a real human. And with a real life and real experiences and still run for and win a seat.

That would be good news for women who remain way underrepresented in Congress, which is still about three quarters male. There had been some early reports that the 2022 midterms could be a step forward for women, with Black women projected to make some gains both in Congress and in other roles. Hello, Stacey Abrams. I see you running for governor again. 

This progress is slow, y’all. A recent study from the Brookings Institute found that women are still much less likely than men to even consider running for office. And y’all while the study doesn’t get into this, I will point out that a lot of the women candidates who are running in 2022 are Republicans. And you know that more Marjorie Taylor Greenes in the halls of Congress is not my idea of progress. That’s a hard pass. 

We want candidates who practice empathy toward all people who put justice at the center. Who put BIPOC lives and trans lives and marginalized lives first. Who stand up to power, not grab it and hoard it. My guest today has put those messages at the forefront of her campaign and she’s gotten national attention along the way.

Morgan Harper is a candidate for US Senate, coming from her home state of Ohio. She’s in a much-watched primary race up against incumbent Congressman Tim Ryan, who’s already been endorsed by the Ohio Democratic Party. But Harper is giving him a run for his money, advocating for universal health care and accountability for big tech and using TikTok to get her message across. She’s young, just 38 years old, but you know what? She brings a lot to this race. 

There’s her personal experience. She was in foster care for the first nine months of her life before being adopted. And has said that her quote, whole story starts with the community stepping in and giving me a shot. There’s her professional accomplishments. She got her law degree from Stanford and worked in the Obama administration, protecting consumers from corporate wrongdoing. We love that. 

And then there’s her political experience. Harper ran for Congress once before, when she tried for a House seat in 2020. She lost then, but she’s trying again now for Senate. Which, let me remind you has exactly zero Black woman in it right now. Which is another reason why so many of us are watching Morgan Harper do her thing.

I wanted to talk to her about values, empathy, and yes TikTik. So I caught her on the campaign trail. We’re on March 31st, 33 days before her primary coming up on May the 3rd. Morgan Harper, Senator of TikTok. Thanks for joining me.

Morgan Harper: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Um, I’m joking because you’re actually running for the US Senate, which is a beautiful thing.

Um, so I certainly do not mean to diminish your accomplishments. I’m simply saying that because, like a lot of people, the first time I encountered you was on maybe the most beautiful TikTok I’ve ever. You’re debating Josh Mandel, who’s the Republican candidate running for the Senate seat in Ohio. And not only do you absolutely eviscerate him, but you’re like perfectly composed while he spews the most racist, sex, conspiratorial ideas. And to be clear, you don’t have to be that composed because if you wanted to scream at him, that would have been perfectly justified. But like what, what was going on in your head during these debates? Because this is not…we’re at a different time.

Morgan Harper:Yeah. We are in a different time and I appreciate your saying that because I sometimes feel like I have to remind people of that and that these are not normal times. These are not normal people. These are not people that are actually trying to become US senators to accomplish anything. It’s like their mission is obstruction and them trying to make our lives worse while they get rich and everybody who funds them gets richer too. Right?

So, uh, in my head, it’s all about trying to call that out. I mean, I think that needs to be our overall Democratic strategy. Like, this isn’t real. Josh Mandel says that he really cares about homeless veterans. Okay. What’s your plan to get people more housing? You don’t have one. Call that out. So call it out for exactly what it is. You are being racist. These are racist tropes. Here’s what I actually want to do to improve your life and then, and be aggressive about communicating that message. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: This wild time has found you and Mandel in debate more than once, right?

And he’s kind of a stand-in for the culture wars that the GOP wants to pursue. But during one of these debates, he accuses you of, this is my favorite one. And if you’re listening, I’m doing air quotes, getting angry with him. Right? Even though, like it’s a debate and passion counts for something, but of course we know this trope. We accused Black women of being irrationally angry.

Like our anger is not justified and it’s unbecoming. Um and it’s just such an exhausted trope. And yet it is still so pervasive everywhere, but especially in politics. How do you, how do you protect your mental wellbeing and preserve yourself in situations like this?

Morgan Harper: Yeah, I have one moment at the beginning there were it was clear he was going to go down that route. ‘Cause I think he said it probably 12 times that I was angry just in a row. Everything I said was like angry. Oh Morgan, why you so angry? So worked up? And after the first couple of times it was like, wow, he’s really going to go there. And I felt myself being who I am. You know, there’s a side that I’m like about to go after this guy.

But then you have to remember, there’s a larger, larger picture out here. And ultimately, I do think we’re going to be most effective when we just pivot back to substance constantly, constantly, constantly. And because we know, you know, you take one of those little clips and then Fox News is going to have a field day with it and what will come of it.

And in fact, we can really contrast what they’re saying by, like I said, just calling that out directly. And you know, I mean, I think seeing for me too the, um, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Because I, ‘cause I also minimize it a little bit. You know, what the impact is of, of some of that rhetoric coming at you and having to see her go through that, um, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

It was triggering of just what that experience was like and really feeling like, man, I just can’t believe this is what we’ve become in a way. And, you know, I spoke to a group of students recently and they were asking me about the debates as well, and a lot of young Black women, women of color, and like, well, how, how can we build resiliency?

And my message was, I don’t want you to have to be this resilient. This, this is not the goal. The goal is that you get to just be great. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: So for the people who have not had the pleasure of seeing you across their for you page, like I have and who maybe live outside of Ohio or who maybe live inside of Ohio and still have questions.

What is the Morgan Harper 1 0 1? Like, what are your biggest policy priorities right now? And, and really what, what helps shape them? 

Morgan Harper: Well, where I’m coming from with all of this. I mean why, you know, just to back up, why I’m in politics in the first place is I had early exposure through life experiences about how we don’t really have a level playing field for getting access to the American dream.

I saw that through education, educational choices that were made by my mom, I saw that through the fact that, you know, being adopted, being given up for adoption. Going through my parents going through this crazy divorce that I knew, we only made it really out of chance. I was like, this can’t be how we operate.

If we really are serious about being a country of, of the American dream. And then eventually, you know, having any experiences of being at places like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington and understanding the limits of even great policymaking with good people who are doing it. If it’s not moving the needle economically for people, if we have politicians that aren’t on the side of really getting things done, it’s game over. 

Yeah. And I would argue we’re at about game over, right? Cause like this could be the end and what’s it going to take to move in a different direction to actually fulfill that promise of what our country is supposed to be from a policy perspective? I think it has to look like aking sure that everybody has healthcare minimum.

That’s not just the right thing to do. We know that you need to be healthy to have any shot of leading a stable life, but even if that’s not enough for you, it’s also the economically efficient thing to do to make sure that we have Medicare for all. And I will go to bat with anybody who wants to talk about that and I’m open to other ideas, but I haven’t heard one that’s as persuasive to me about how we’re going to solve for that.

I want to make sure that people are earning enough money to live. I think a lot of the other issues that we find ourselves dealing with in communities across Ohio, across the country is that people just don’t have enough money. And this is another point I made in one of those debates. And so the positive news is there are things we can do about all of this.

I mean, investing in the clean energy sector, that’s what I want Ohio to be a state of the future. I want to make sure that, you know, we have people who are able to get access to the addiction recovery services that they need. Mental health care services that they need, and we can do this. And so those are just a suite of some of my priorities, but I have a vision of how we can really drive out here and, uh, and just want to be able to be in a position to make it happen. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: And I mean, you’re, you’re throwing your hat into this ring at a relatively young age, right? So you are, if you don’t mind me saying so 38, which is a year older than me, and I don’t think I could imagine running for Senate right now for a whole host of reasons.

I’m curious how you feel, you know, younger generations can really inform the direction moving forward. Because I mean, you look at the Senate, right? We’re not talking about a lot of 28 year olds, 38 year olds, even 48 year olds, frankly. Um, and I’m just curious your thoughts as to, um, why now at this point in your life, do you feel like, um, this is the right move to make. 

Morgan Harper: Yeah. You know, I think it’s very interesting that we’ve gotten to this place where it is strange for people our age to be running for Senate. Cause I agree with you. I mean, if you would ask me even probably three or four years ago, that I’d be running for the United States Senate before I’m 40. The answer would have been a hard, no, right?

Cause just no, that’s what older people do. And, uh, and then we look at, and this actually came up before, you know, it just had the first and will likely be the only debate for the Democratic primary before we were going on stage with a moderator and say, oh, you know, you’re so young and it’s good to see young people out here.

And I was like, well, you know, it’s, it is true that we have people that are about my age almost that are running entire countries in other places. And it is true that about the average age of our country is closer to what I am than the average age of the Senate, which I think is over 60. And maybe we need to reorient our expectations of what these positions should be. Truly reflecting the diversity of the population.

So yeah, no, I, I wouldn’t have expected it, but I do think it’s necessary to be able to have more people who are millennials who are now full-fledged adults in, in positions in government of influence to make sure that our policy reflects where people are at and we’re looking ahead for the next 40 years.

We’re invested in that, but most of the people that are in there will not be around for the next 40. So we need to make sure that we have a say.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: You know, I’m curious, what your thoughts broadly are around the importance of running again after a loss. You know, there’s a saying that, um, when a man loses a race, he thinks America has made a mistake.

When a woman loses a race, she thinks she’s made a mistake and she’s not meant for politics. Is that a feeling you have to fight? Right. Like I, I think about my hometown Congresswoman Cori Bush, if she hadn’t kept running, she wouldn’t be in Congress right now. 

Morgan Harper: Yeah. Well, it’s funny, you mentioned Cori. I get chills even when I think about Cori winning, because that was a really, uh, that was, uh, that was a moment for me when Cori won that made me feel like, oh, it was all worth it, you know, in, in a way.

Um, because yeah, I mean, when you lose, it’s tough and it’s such a public loss when everyone is watching. And that was, that was really hard to process because yeah, I had let people down. And so many people had invested time, money into the campaign and that’s, that’s hard to feel that. Um, but you know, the other thing though, is it was interesting when I, when we did re-emerge as the summer hit and people were going out for protests and different actions and things like that, that I encountered people that were surprised to see me.

‘Cause exactly what you’re saying. You’re, you’re expected to just wither away in shame and never be heard from again. And I was like, Okay. No, I mean, yeah, I lost the election, but we did a lot of great things. Okay. We got over 20,000 votes. We had people come out that had never voted by absentee ballot before that we’re making it happen to, to express themselves to support our campaign.

So that was a victory. We need to reorient how we’re thinking about what that was. And then I felt even more strongly about, and I can’t have people think that that that’s a failure. If you have one step back that then you’re done. Absolutely not. So that meant a lot to me, you know, just to be able to show people what, I guess we’re going back to that resilience point, but this is a, you know, maybe a more, uh, expected type of resilience.

Of course, you’re not going to be able to win everything. But that I can show people that model. And I heard from a lot of people. Now this gets into a little bit more of a weird thing. I heard from some people that were like, I wanted to see you lose. I wanted to see you lose to be able to know that you’re real.

But I, and I just heard that again about a week ago from somebody who was like, I’m so excited, you’re running again. ‘Cause I didn’t, I wanted to believe that everything you were saying was real. But I’ve never heard anybody say it and actually mean it. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Well,  that’s such an interesting take and that, you know, these folks who are saying, I kind of wanted to see you lose, um. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before.

Morgan Harper: Really? You got to come to Ohio.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: My instinct is to like, individualize that. Right? And so like, what is w what, why would you say something like that? And then I realized that perhaps that’s even more of a reflection of how much people feel cheated by the political process. Tthat the idea that somebody could actually have values and stand by them and then not be bought out.  Them not be, you know, uh, them not chicken out that that is, uh, such a, an unexpected thing, um, from politicians really across the globe, but certainly, um, in Washington. That perhaps people, um, have developed their own tests for that. Which, which, which is really fascinating.

Right. Because, uh, you know, I often say that democracy is under threat in two ways, right? One, um, and that there are folks who are very interested in creating disinterest from people, right? Who want folks to lose faith in participating in the system who want folks to believe that they actually can’t make it any better so why even try? 

And then there’s like good old fashioned attacks against democracy, like disinformation, voter disenfranchisement, and suppression. Looking out at the field of Republicans in Ohio, um, that you, one of whom you will run against, if you win this primary. That debate stage for the Republicans running for the Senate seat in March, seven candidates on stage, only one of them acknowledges the legitimacy of president Biden’s win.

Um, literally six people on that stage believe and perpetuate the myth that the election was stolen. And there are many, many more conservatives that reflect this viewpoint and are just detached from reality in a way that is terrifying, right? Not, not funny, terrifying. How do we like everyday people defend democracy against that level of disinformation?

Morgan Harper: Yeah. Another, uh, another good and important question and a big question. Uh, so, you know, like I was doing in those Mandel debates, I think we need to just call it out directly and, and we need to be very aggressive in doing that and aggressive with him. I have a very great amount of empathy for individuals I need around our state who may be, do ascribe to some of these views.

Uh, and I may give a shot with anyone to explain it, but when I’m interacting with one of these political figures, who is spewing this stuff I have, no, I have no patience and I don’t think we should. And I think we need to be really direct about that. So I mean, that, that to me is the strategy is calling it out and then trying to move towards, and here’s what we need to be about, but we also need to be realistic about the fact that that is unlikely to happen through just the traditional, oh, we’re going to flood the airways.

Ads come then the November general election, it’s like, no, we need to be boots on the ground. Grassroots infrastructure, everywhere, meeting people where they’re at to make the case for why that is not for you. We are in deep investment, lots of lots of conversations. I think that’s our only hope. So grassroots is no longer just this like cutesy thing that some young people are talking about now and then. I think that is our only pathway to salvation from this stuff. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: You talk about grassroots and me thinks some of that is maybe connected to a point that you always make about growing up in a union household. Um, I grew up in a union family too. And, um, I’m wondering why it’s important to you to consistently make that point on the campaign trail?

Morgan Harper: Well, because especially in Ohio, Uh, this concept has been completely weaponized, you know, as somehow, oh, if you’re in a union, you’re going to be losing control over your life, and you’ll never be able to, you know, have enough autonomy and, and advance in your career. And the, the brainwashing has been so exquisite.

And I don’t know if you find that, you know, in Missouri, but that’s what’s happened here where we have some people that are scared to even say the word, you know. And it’s like, what is this? No, no, that’s at the core of being able to build your career. I mean, when, you know, my family was going through crazy, crazy things that my mom was able to, to know that she could take a few minutes, be able to get to a lawyer appointment, get to a court appointment, whatever, and that she would still have a job.

That’s how you’re able to navigate things. Do you have some job security? Yes. I think it’s really important to emphasize that so that we are educating the next generation about the strength of unions and the need to support them. I was at an event that some Ohio state students put together as like, make no mistake about it, right now your fight is making sure that you’re paid enough as a student worker. But the reason why they don’t want you to talk about these things, the reason why they don’t want you to talk about unionization is people are trying to prepare you for an adulthood of just taking it. No.

We need to be countering that and need to know that there’s strength in that collective organizing to be able to push back against power and, you know, in power is what power is. And you have to have a balance of power. If we can have equitable outcomes. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Yeah. I, I used to be a teacher and was a full dues paying member of the Washington Teachers Union.

I needed that sick leave bank when I was in the hospital for a week with a kidney issue, right? And I it’s, it’s both the large political things and the ability to organize, um, real, everyday people. And it’s also those, those everyday communal mutual aid things that we, that we depend on when it comes to that organizing body

I mean, as you’re saying. There’s a specific conversation happening about unions in Ohio. We’ve seen the percentage of unionized workers in Ohio declining for decades and still given where it began. It’s one of the most heavily unionized states in the country. Um, and we know that there’s a concentration of what I think a lot of people would call traditional unions, right?

Um, auto workers, steel workers, but there are also Starbucks locations that are organizing and other newer businesses where folks are saying to your point, we actually don’t want to just take it. We want to have a say in what happens with our lives and our wages. I’m curious what you’ve observed about the potential for this conversation in Ohio, especially with some of these, um, these new found organizing efforts.

Morgan Harper: I think there’s a lot of potential because I think a lot of young people are starting to realize that where we’re headed is not going to add up and that’s becoming clearer and clearer by the day. And in fact, folks would be willing to maybe sacrifice a little perceived autonomy with some greater expectation of security down the line.

And, and ultimately that’s what, that’s what we’re up against. We’re up against this philosophy of individualism at all costs to be able to have total control over your life. That is a facade. Okay. Versus understanding that and coming together, we can actually drive forward better outcomes than we could alone.

And that’s, that’s not Pollyannaish stuff. That’s just power, that’s power dynamics. So I think a lot of younger people are waking up to that. I also am excited to see a lot of connections from folks who have been more traditional union members who maybe are older starting to mentor some of the younger unionizing efforts that are happening. Those connections are really important.

And then of course, I think that politics can be a tremendous vehicle for accelerating that. And then we have to have, you know, some issues that really bring people together. I think the minimum wage issue is one that naturally just unites a lot of different types of people across the state. But then also looking at something like healthcare, which traditionally has been used as something to divide a lot of union members from other people who maybe were advocating for universal health care, Medicare for all. But I’m sensing there too there’s a shift and a lot of union members recognizing negotiated healthcare benefits, not actually serving our needs. And having connections with people and even, you know, in Canada, I’ve, I’ve talked to some union members in Northwest Ohio that have connections to people in Canada, and now we’re seeing they’re just negotiating for more money, but then they get to do with what they want.

They don’t have to waste time trying to negotiate for healthcare. Um, yeah. You know, making sure that we have the issues that are going to be unifiers as well. I think we’ll bring more people into the fold to recognize the power of unions, but then also be able to push for in a more efficient way to a coalition of people that support these policies.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Before I let you go,  you know, if, if you are elected, you would be Ohio’s first Black woman Senator. Um, in fact, the state’s first woman Senator at all, which is, my God. Um, the fact that we’re still counting first in 2022 is both terrifying, um, and fascinating. And I’m guessing that there are a lot of people who are listening, who could absolutely have a lot to contribute to our government at every level, but maybe don’t see themselves entering, uh, entering the fray.

What, what do you want a person from a marginalized background, a person who folks count out a person who might even count themselves out, what should they consider about maybe, um, getting in the arena like you have? 

Morgan Harper: Yeah, it’s a great question and what I would want people to consider and what I’m usually advising people who are asking me about whether they should run for office. You know, what are the qualifications? What do you need? Did you need to hold this position and this much money? 

Most important thing to me, especially as we embark on these 2020s, which are wild, right. Uh, is authenticity. And I’ve found in my life that the people who have been through the most are usually those that are the most authentic.

And because of some of the things that we’ve already discussed with the disillusionment distrust, with the political process, being able to have folks that are in these positions that, that others perceive as authentic. It’s just, uh, that is, that is the only qualification right now to me to have a lot of electoral success, especially if you’re trying to be a Democrat.

And so, uh, yeah, there, there needs to be more of us running who really get it. And it’s so interesting because I’ve learned. Starting to be in this arena now, there’s so many people who try to have it. But you can see through it. You know, I think we probably all can think of examples of that. And that’s the most important thing.

So, you know, you don’t need to check every box. You just need to keep checking your boxes for yourself to make sure that when you get to the point of wanting to run, that you are intact for who you are, what you believe in, why you’re doing it and that you can sell that to other people. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Amen and amen. Morgan Harper, thank you so much for spending time with us on your very busy campaign calendar. We appreciate it. 

Morgan Harper: No appreciate you. Great to meet you Brittany.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Morgan Harper is running in the democratic primary to be the next senator from Ohio.

When folks found out I had a baby, as you can imagine, we got a ton of books, like half of them, where “A is for Activist”. That’s an actual book. And if you need one, let me know. I have plenty extra.  Baby M and I have read it now quite a few times. And D is one of my favorite passages. D is for small D. Democracy.

The rhyme goes on to talk about how it is the people and only the people who should be organizing to make the decisions that matters most. It sounds radical to read that to an infant, but perhaps if that was everybody’s bedtime reading candidates and electeds like Morgan, who believe in the power of the grassroots, wouldn’t be rare. They’d be standard issue.

It is in the grassroots where we not only find our power. It is there we should also take our direction because no one candidate, whether they’ve been in Congress for 40 years or 4 will ever be our savior. No, I don’t stand politicians. They are. They are fallible and they will never, ever take positions that satisfy all of us all at the same time.

But I do and will always believe in the collective power of the people and the vision that we create together. As the disability activists say nothing about us should ever be decided without us. So, whether you’re going to put your name on the ballot, like Morgan, to advocate for the ideas you know matter. Or you’re going to go support someone else who does,  it is always time to get in the arena.

That’s it for today, but never for tomorrow. UNDISTRACTED is a production of The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios. 


Treasure Brooks is our correspondent. 

Our lead producer is Rachel Ward. 

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Our executive producers at The Meteor are Cindi Leive and myself, and our executive producers at Pineapple are Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky. 

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Thanks for listening. Thanks for being. And thanks for doing. I’m Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Let’s go get free.